SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) Lawrence Technological University was the place and Michigan’s six controversial ballot proposals were the — hot — topic at WWJ’s “Meet the Candidates” night Thursday.
Matt Roush, WWJ’s technology editor, and Doc Thompson, show host on Talk Radio 1270, led the wide-ranging discussion as pro and con forces battled over the ballot proposals and how they’ll affect Michigan’s future. Dozens of people filled the auditorium in the Lawrence Tech Science Building, with many asking pointed questions of people representing both sides of the issues.
The most heated discussion came during the talk on Proposal 6, the proposal to amend the state constitution to require a vote of the public for construction of a new bridge to Canada, with Mickey Blashfield, director of the Moroun family funded People Should Decide group, facing off against Brad Williams of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
They presented vastly different cost numbers, research and storylines about why the bridge is or isn’t necessary. Critics of the proposal that is being pushed heavily by the Moroun family, which privately owns the Ambassador Bridge, say the Morouns are fighting the state’s proposal for a second publicly-funded span to Canada because they want to build their own second bridge – and pocket millions in construction and toll money.
“This is about one family that controls commercial traffic (across the bridge) — the situation is bad for everybody,” Williams said, adding, “The people asking for this bridge are the biggest customers of the Ambassador Bridge.”
Williams threw down the gauntlet by apologizing to the audience for the all the Moroun-sponsored pro-Proposal 6 TV ads they’ve had to watch leading up the election.
“Nothing you see is true,” he said.
Blashfield countered that no study has proven the need for a second bridge from Detroit to Canada, and said there are millions of dollars in hidden taxpayer costs for the public bridge.
“There is no such thing as a free bridge,” he said, adding traffic is down 40 percent on the Ambassador Bridge since 2000 and there’s no need for a second span to Canada.
When an audience member asked why, if the bridge isn’t necessary, the Morouns want to build one of their own, he said, “The reason we would build a bridge is to update an older (one).”
Williams protested that he wasn’t telling the truth.
“Tell me one thing that’s false?” Blashfield challenged.
“All of it,” Williams said.